The importance of water is often overlooked. Our lives depend on it, water can give a landscape special charm and beauty with its various forms, it is also important in traffic. Ancient Romans built roads on Slovenian territory parallel with the riverbeds, and a great portion of road and railway traffic is running similarly today. Cycling lanes along rivers are gaining on importance lately, due to the flat terrain which is accessible to a broad circle of cyclists.The main goal of the excursion is to discover aquatic variety of Slovenia, as well as exploration of natural and cultural heritage. While cycling mostly down the river valleys, participants will admire beauty of rivers, creeks, lakes, water falls, karst springs and the sea.
Water in Slovenia appears in various forms which depends on the forms of surface and geological compositon. In Subalpine lands, there is a dominance of rivers which are often dammed due to the inclination, as well as water falls, and glacial lakes which came to existence in basins after the retreat of glaciers. Apart from larger rivers with artificial lakes, Panonnian Basin is filled with thermal springs which enabled development of tourist and spa resorts. Mediterranean lands offer opportunities for cycling along the rivers, and 46 kilometers of coast line where the oldest towns in Slovenia are located. Dinaric-Karstic world offers an infrequent network of rivers due to the presence of limestone. Surface streams appear most often in karst fields where water resistant dolomite is present instead of lime stone. Due to interchanging presence of water resistant and permeable surface, Karst region boasts phenomena such as doline, požiralniki, karst sources, chasms and caves, and stalactites in the undergrund.
On the following page, a schematic daily course of the the excursion is presented. The routes are located on roads with less traffic and partially correspond with the existing cycling routes. Transportation with accompanying vehicle is organized between segments. Accomodations with halfboard are located along the way, in inns and tourist farms. All the daily stages are of medium difficulty, slightly longer due to the gradual terrain. The length of the individual stage and its difficulty can be adjusted according to the wishes of the group, as well as the duration of the entire excursion.
Mureck – Murska Sobota – Veržej – Razkrižje
The Mur is the left tributary of the Drava. Its source is located in the Tauern, it crosses Slovenia on its way and has its river mouth in Legrad, Croatia. It is a border river between Slovenia and Austria, and it separates Prekmurje, the region with noticable Hungarian influence up until the year 1919, from the rest of Slovenia. The Hungarian influence can be noticed in the dialect which differs from other Slovenian dialects, however it is in accordance with the landscape in its poetical sound. The Mur is a water-rich river which is a consequence of numerous hydro power plants in Austria. In the past, the power of the river was exploited for mills and sawmills, and it was used as a water way, as well. The route runs on both banks. It starts in Mureck in Austria, and from there it runs on the left bank where it passes artificial lakes, up to Murska Sobota where lunch break follows. We cross the Mur at Veržej and visit the Babič mill, the only functional mill on the river. The journey continues on the left bank to Ižakovci, a special place on the river, called the Island of love where ferry crossing is located and a visit to a ship mill can be arranged. The tour finishes in Razkrižje where apart from a blacksmith museum, one can visit Ivan’s source, one of numerous bioenergy spots in the area.
Logarska dolina – Ljubno ob Savinji – Mozirje – Žalec – Šmartinsko jezero
The Savinja is the longest river with both the source and the river mouth in Slovenia, its length is 102 km. It has its source in Logar Valley in the Kamnik Alps, as a 105 m high waterfall called Rinka Falls. The entire route of the cycling stage runs paralel to the riverbed of the Savinja and it descends gradually. Firstly, the route leads through glacially formed Logar Valley through Solčava, Luče and Ljubno ob Savinji to Mozirje where a lunch break and a visit to Mozirski gaj, the largest botany garden in Slovenia, is planed. The route leads among the hops plantations towards Žalec, a town with centuries old hop-growing tradition, demonstrated in the ecomuseum of hop-growing. Muscle regeneration can be assured by visiting the beer fountain in Žalec which offers beer sorts of local brewers. Those whose legs are not yet tired can cycle to Lake Šmartno, a popular trip destination which came to exsistence by daming the creek Koprivnica at its outfall into the Savinja.
Bled – Mojstrana – Kranjska gora
The trip starts in Bled, one of the oldest tourist places in Slovenia, which is located at Lake Bled, the lake with our only island. Lake Bled is Slovenia’s second largest natural lake and was formed in a basin after the retreat of the Bohinj glacier. The island in the middle of the lake was a place of pilgrimage in the time of the old Slavs, and today, the church of Saint Martin is situated on the island – it can be reached with the famous boat, called pletna. On a high cliff above the lake, a castle which hosts weddings and other social occasions stands for thousand years. A panoramic route which offers views of a surrounding mountainous landscape, Karavanke in the northeast, and Julian Alps with Triglav National Park in the west leads around the lake.
The way leads from Bled to Kranjska Gora. We start with the 6-kilometer tour around the lake where we can enjoy the views and treat ourselves with the famous kremšnita in one of the restaurants around the lake. From Bled, we follow the peaceful forrest roads towarrds the Gornjesavska Valley, formed by the Sava Dolinka, all the way to Mojstrana where a lunch break is planed. We will then continue cycling on the cycling route of three lands, the route which is going all the way to Treviso and runs on the line of former narrow-gauge railway. Two-way cycling route is completely separated from the road and is among cylists considered a cycling highway which offers views of the highest peaks of Julian Alps (Triglav, Škrltica, Špik, …). In Kranjska Gora, we can finish our tour with a walk around two artificial lakes with a common name Lake Jasna, where we can enjoy a beatiful view of Triglav National Park.
Trenta – Bovec – Kobarid – Most na Soči
The accompanying vehicle will take us over the Vršič Pass to Trenta which marks the upper part of the Soča Valley and is located in the heart of Triglav National Park, the largest protected territory in Slovenia. The cycling starts at the hut near the spring of the Soča from where we can take a walk to the spring of the Soča, a small water fall of bluish colour, before we start with the cycling. We follow the upper stream of the Soča which has, similarly as other rivers, higher gradient as lower stream. We make a right turn at the village Kal.Koritnica and after a short climb in the valley of the river we arrive to the Kluže Fortress, the purpose of which was to stop Napoleon’s campaigns against Austria. The excursion continues through Bovec and Čezsoča, with a view on one of the most magnificent water falls in Slovenia, Boka, right from the road. Strong currents of the Soča are also quite popular among rafting enthusiasts. While cycling along the current of the emerald river, it can be noticed why the Soča is considered a »splendid daughter of heights«, as it is written in a poem by Simon Gregorčič. In the end of his lyrical poem, Gregorčič wrote: »Bitter steel will strike upon these lands and you will flow full of blood« which unfortunatelly became true during the first world war when the part of the Isonzo Front took place on a mountain ridge above the Soča, on the border between Italy and then’s Austria-Hungary. The Isonzo Front is considered as one of the harshest battle fields in the history of warfare, and the museum in Kobarid, where our trip finishes, is dedicated to it. If there is still some energy left, the trip can be prolonged to Most na Soči where a boat ride on the artificial lake built for needs of Doblar power plant can be organized. THe Soča leaves Slovenian territory at Solkan, and falls into the Gulf of Trieste under the name Isonzo.
ALONG THE DRAGONJA VALLEY TO SLOVENIAN COAST
Šmarje – Strunjan – Izola – Koper
Our fifth stage of the excursion is dedicated to exploration of the Dragonja Valley and the Adricatic coast, the Slovenian window into the world. The Dragonja belongs to the Adriatic catchment area, the rivers from which all fall into the Adriatic Sea and which covers 19% of Slovenia. The rest of Slovenia belongs to the Black Sea Catchment Area. The cycling begins in the settlement Šmarje from where the panoramic route leads us to the settlement Krkavče where a stone monument, a menhir from the Celtic age is located, as well as numerous olive oil presses. The way from Krkavče towards the valley of the Dragonja, the border river between Slovenia and Croatia, and the road along the river is a gravel road. Many tributaries fall into the Dragonja along the way from left and right, and many ruins of mills can be found. Our way continues to Sečovlje Saltworks, surrounded with the cottages and with the museum of saltworks. Adriatic sea has due to its high salinity as a gulf sea a long tradition of saltmaking. The way continues to Paeanzena and it leads on a location of former railway between Trieste and Poreč. The famous Strunjan cliff, composed of flysch, dominant for Istria, is located in the eponymous settlement. The trip continues to Izola, and then on the former local road to Koper where we finish our trip with the visit of the old city centre.
Rakov Škocjan – Cerknica – Grahovo – Križna jama
Our cycling trip will be taking place in Notranjska Regional Park, more precisely on Cerknica Polje, surrounded on the west by karst plateaus Javorniki, Snežnik, and Bloke. Cerknica Polje turns after the autumn rainfall peak into 38 km2 big lake which reduces significantly in the summer, in time of the outflow of the subterranean waters. This phenomenon is called intermittent lake, Lake Cerknica, to be more precise, the activity of which was first scientifically described by Janez Vajkard Valvasor in the 17th century. Cerknica Polje was formed on the connection of two carbonate rocks – water permeable lime stone and water resistant dolomite. The surface is covered with dolomite which is surrounded by lime stone and that’s why the karst springs appear, and in the northeastern side, many currents disappear from surface and continue their way in various directions, towards Rakov Škocjan, Planina Field and Ljubljana Marshes. The cycling stage begins in Rakov Škocjan where the stream Stržen which disappeared on Cerkniško polje reappears under the name Rak. Before the cycling starts we can stroll across this famous karst valley which came to existence with the collapse of the cave ceiling – the remainings of which are two natural bridges, Small bridge and Great bridge. The path continues from Rakov Škocjan to Cerknica, a town at the foot of the hill Slivnica, a supposed home of witches. In a nearby village, Dolenje Jezero, a model of of Lake Cerknica is exhibited and accompanied by a witty explanation, and there is also an opportunity for lunch. After the break, the tour continues on asphalt and gravel road and by the cave system of Mala and Velika Karlovica where the largest brook of the Cerknica Polje, Stržen, disappears. The way leads us through the villages Gorenje Jezero, Goričice and Grahovo, over Bloška Polica, to the Edge of Lož Karst Field, to Cross Cave, where we end the day with the visit of one of the most beautiful water cave in Europe which boasts many lakes, separated calcareous barriers and the archeological site with remainings of the cave bear’s skeleton.
Lake Kočevje – Livold – Fara – Stari trg ob Kolpi
The Kolpa has its source in Gorski Kotar in Croatia. It runs through a narrow valley to Osilnica, and then for 117 km along the border between Croatia and Slovenia. It is both the border river of Bela Krajina and Karst region on the southeast, which is due to the poor quality of soil overgrown with birch trees. The Kolpa is one of the warmest rivers, its temperature rises over 25 °C which is exploited by the visitors in numerous natural bath sites and camps in Bela Krajina. The river was, especially in its upper current, used to run numerous mills and sawmills, and today her beauty attracts many tourists.
The cycling begins at Lake Kočevje, mine lake which was created after the closure of a surface mine of brown coal. Today, the lake is a habitat of various species of plants and animals, and a teaching path leads around it. We cycle through Kočevje, known especially after the immigration of the German population in the 14th century, through Livold all the way to Fara where we start our journey along the stream of the Kolpa. The traffic on this road is light and the road itself leads through the woods and every now and then runs near the river. In Stari Trg, a lunch break is organized, and the accompanying vehicle takes us to one of the natural bath sites.
Krka – Žužemberk – Novo mesto – Šmarješke Toplice – Klevevž
The longest river in Dolenjska, the Krka, has its source in the village with the same name, and falls into the Sava, the longest river in Slovenia, at Brežice. Because the Krka comes to surface from the Krka Cave, especially in the upper stream tufa is present which forms beautiful tufa falls, through which the river rolls in form of rapids. This adds to the river’s popularity for rafting. The cycling continues from the source of the river through a narrow gorge towards Dvor near Žužemberk which was famous in the 19th century for its ironworks industry which was later abandoned due to the fact that the railroad between Ljubljana and Novo mesto bypased the valley of the Krka. In Žužemberk, we can enjoy our lunch and visit the castle which used to belong to the counts of Cilli and came into hands of the Habsburg dinasty after their extinction.
The trip countinues from Žužemberk towards the capitol of Dolenjska, Novo mesto, where a beautiful vista of the old city centre and the Kapitelj church is presented to us from the old bridge. We can climb the Kapitelj hill and enjoy the view or explore the old city streets, e.g. Breg, Main square with the town hall and Dolenjski muzej where the situlas from the iron age are exhibited. The path leads us from Novo mesto, past the castle Otočec, Šmarješke toplice and Šmarjeta to Klevevž where we can find of the low karst landscape despite the position at the border with Pannonian lowlands, and for which Karst caves are typical although not as prevalent due to the higher water levels. We end our cycling trip with a dip in a wonderful natural pool, filled with water from a natural spring.
- Bicycle excursions are organized on optional date, for gropups of no less than four participants (max 7 patticipants per guided group)
- Due to the great density of local roads and the lack of bicycle lanes outside settlements, the bicycle tours are organised on local roads with smaller density of traffic, and partially on existing and marked bicycle lanes.
- Participants can cycle by themselves or under guidance.
- Because gravel roads are included in the excursions, trekking bikes are required. Optional rent of electirc bike is possible, for additional payment.
- Cycling is possible in individual organization or under guidance.
- Accompanying vehicle is at participants’ disposal for technical support, support with drinks and snacks, support with directions, transport of bikes and passengers during the stage of the excursion or to the start of the next stage of the excursion.
- All the stages are of medium difficulty, the length of a segment, as well as the duration of the entire excursion can be adjusted in accordance with the wishes of the group,
- Excursions are enriched with the additional offer, which includes visits of surrounding natural and cultural sites, possibilities for relaxation, sports and suggestions for lunch
Participants can choose between entire bicycle excursion and individual stages. Price is established in accordance with the participants’ demands and wishes.
BASIC PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES:
- Rental of a trekking bike (if participants have their own bikes, the price is lower),
- Accompanying vehicle with a trailer,
- Accomodations in authentic Slovenian guest houses and tourist farms,
- Half board (dinner and breakfast arranged in the place of accomodation)
- Cartography and instructions for cycling.
- Transfer from and to hotel/airport in Zagreb or Ljubljana.
- Fully qualified bike guide fort he whole trip,
- Sightseeing and sports activities, suggested in the programme,
- Rental of electric bike.
- Rental of navigation equipment (self guided tours).
The starting point of the excursion depends on the selected daily stages. In the evening on the day before the start of the excursion, we can provide transport from Ljubljana/Zagreb airport or hotel to the accommodation next to the starting point. We will also take you to Ljubljana or Zagreb after the the end of cycling trip.